This past Saturday night, the Indianapolis Colts pulled off a significant win against the New England Patriots. With questions circulating regarding if the Colts were major players in the AFC, they proved to everyone — in a national setting — that they are the real deal. Thanks to a 170-yard performance from running back Jonathan Taylor and a stellar night from the Indy defense, the Colts secured a 27-17 victory.
However, it wasn’t a flawless night for the Colts by any stretch of the imagination. Despite the 27 points, Indy’s passing game noticeably struggled.
Carson Wentz had a lousy night passing the football
Heading into the massive AFC showdown, the consensus was that the Colts would stick to their bread and butter. The Patriots have one of the better passing defenses in the league (led by cornerback J.C. Jackson). The Colts’ path to victory was undoubtedly going to be on the ground.
The Colts stuck true to their plan, rushing for an eye-popping 226 yards despite Bill Belichick’s best efforts to stack the line of scrimmage. That said, the few times the Colts tried to move the ball through the air, it was pretty darn ugly.
Carson Wentz, who the Colts acquired via trade this past offseason, finished the Saturday Night Football spectacle with a measly 57 passing yards on 12 attempts. He threw a costly interception late in the game and got away with several risky passes earlier. Wentz did throw one touchdown. However, it was more so a pitch play that got registered as a pass.
Run-first scheme aside, 57 passing yards obviously doesn’t look good on paper.
Why Carson Wentz’s poor day passing is actually encouraging
It was a massive win for the Colts, no matter how you slice it. They knocked off the No. 1 seed in the AFC at the time and moved into the No. 5 seed. However, there was still significant negative discourse regarding Wentz’s bad passing day.
Can the Colts win in the postseason with such a poor passing attack?
While yes, Wentz played poorly against the Patriots. It’s essential to acknowledge he’s been a largely above-average passer this season. He ranks 10th in total touchdowns, third-best in interception rate, and eighth in quarterback rating. Compared to his regular-season numbers, his 57-yard performance against the Patriots was a significant outlier.
The encouraging news? Despite one of the worst performances of Wentz’s NFL career, the Colts still beat the best team in the AFC. The Colts’ run game is so unbelievably elite right now; they crushed Bill Belichick’s defensive scheme while barely incorporating their quarterback in the offense. Just imagine what the final score would have looked like had Wentz had a slightly better day passing the football.
The Colts are heating up at the perfect time
Whether you put a significant amount of stock into Wentz’s poor day passing the football against New England or not, the truth of the matter is that none of it matters all that greatly. The Colts are heating up, and they’re heating up at the perfect time.
Jonathan Taylor is playing himself into the MVP conversation. The offensive line is finally healthy. The defense is finding its groove. The Colts arguably have the best special teams unit in the league.
Assuming Wentz positively regresses to his norm (200-plus passing yards per game), the Colts will be in a perfect spot come playoff time.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.